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Lorin Maazel In Vienna Box set


Price: £25.27 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Lorin Maazel In Vienna + Ferenc Fricsay: Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon, Vol. 1, Orchestral Works
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Product details

  • Audio CD (22 July 2014)
  • Number of Discs: 9
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Decca
  • ASIN: B00KYB2I7S
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 45,466 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By D. S. CROWE TOP 500 REVIEWER on 4 Aug 2014
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This set was scheduled for release before the sudden rapid deterioration in health of Maestro Maazel, and was not intended as a tribute, but as the first posthumous release it will be seen as such by many.
It's origin is strange-the various divisions of Universal in different countries seem to be operating unilaterally-Germany has re-mastered the Bohm Ring and Sinopoli Mahler not originally intended for UK release, Australia has released recordings on the Eloquence Label not actually available in Europe, and as for Japan, there is a whole plethora of remastered discs from the Decca and DG catalogue which they advertise as being at 24Bits/100kHZ and which are only available from Japan at great expense -as I can testify!

This set emanates from Universal Italy, with the perfunctory notes a translation from Italian, for example. The set does not state that it is re-mastered at 24Bits, but Decca's promotional material does, and the sonic results confirm this!
The Italian source is perhaps not so strange, as Maazel was revered in Italy perhaps as nowhere else-he could do no wrong in La Scala Milan for example.
This brings me to my next point.
The rush of obituaries even in the UK have emphasised his direction of 3 great American Orchestras-but to my mind his greatest achievements were in Europe with orchestras with which he worked here, none more so than the VPO featured on this set and the BRSO which he led for nigh on 10 years.

This set is not even a smattering of the recordings he made in Vienna, and Decca have even omitted some glorious recordings contemporary to the featured performances, but the Tchaikovsky and Sibelius sets-the only complete sets ever made by the VPO of these composers-have always enjoyed legendary status, and it is easy to hear why.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By BillyA on 31 Aug 2014
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Hard to understand why Decca left off Tapiola & Karelia Suite, when the two would fit perfectly on the CD that has only the Tchaikovsky 5th on it (about 45:00 - those added to it would made it about 75:00 or so. Still, Maazel's Tchaikovsky and Sibelius with the Vienna P.O. stand the test of time very well, not only in performance, but also in sound. Naturally, with warhorses like these, there are no number ones, but those who know Decca and like the younger Maazel (1960s) shouldn't be disappointed.
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18 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Hardy on 24 July 2014
There was a Tapiola too... it seems to have sunk without trace.

Well, I have received the set now, and, as far as I can tell the Sibelius symphonies are exactly as in the current box 430 778-2. The mastering seems to be the same (4, 7 and Tapiola were remastered for the Decca Legends series) as the complete box. This has been my preferred set of the complete Sibelius since they first appeared, with the VPO summoning playing of great clarity and icy expression. They must have been far out of their comfort zone, but the result is elemental and profound. Maazel's tendency to over-control proceedings is not really apparent here (as it is in the Sony Mahler cycle), and the result is extraordinary.

The Tchaikovsky items have been re-ordered, helpfully, so that the Fourth Symphony is not split over two cds. In addition to the contents of the Tchaikovsky symphony box (430 787-2) you get another CD with the 'Manfred' Symphony and 'Hamlet' as a filler. Richard Strauss's Don Juan and Tod und Verklärung have been added to the now separate discs of Tchaikovsky Symphonies 3 and 4.

My grumble about Tapiola remains, and I would draw your attention to the comments here which list other Sibelius items that could have been included - enough for a separate disc, perhaps?

I am listening to the 'new' Sibelius 4 through Sennheiser HD800 headphones, and pretty marvelous it does sound. That magic word 'Sofiensaal' is listed against every recording. While noting the missed opportunities, I am raising my rating to *****. Thank you so much for those who have taken the trouble to comment.

I made an amendment to this post to say that I had ordered a second-hand copy or Symphonies 4, 7 and Tapiola in a 24/96 remastering. It never appeared.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By H. M. Swan on 30 Aug 2014
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Delivered as promised.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A selection of Maazel's early Vienna Recordings reflecting the energy of youth-and the legendary Decca sound of that era. 4 Aug 2014
By D. S. CROWE - Published on Amazon.com
This set was scheduled for release before the sudden rapid deterioration in health of Maestro Maazel, and was not intended as a tribute, but as the first posthumous release it will be seen as such by many.
It's origin is strange-the various divisions of Universal in different countries seem to be operating unilaterally-Germany has re-mastered the Bohm Ring and Sinopoli Mahler not originally intended for UK release, Australia has released recordings on the Eloquence Label not actually available in Europe, and as for Japan, there is a whole plethora of remastered discs from the Decca and DG catalogue which they advertise as being at 24Bits/100kHZ and which are only available from Japan at great expense -as I can testify!

This set emanates from Universal Italy, with the perfunctory notes a translation from Italian, for example. The set does not state that it is re-mastered at 24Bits, but Decca's promotional material does, and the sonic results confirm this!
The Italian source is perhaps not so strange, as Maazel was revered in Italy perhaps as nowhere else-he could do no wrong in La Scala Milan for example.
This brings me to my next point.
The rush of obituaries even in the UK have emphasised his direction of 3 great American Orchestras-but to my mind his greatest achievements were in Europe with orchestras with which he worked here, none more so than the VPO featured on this set and the BRSO which he led for nigh on 10 years.

This set is not even a smattering of the recordings he made in Vienna, and Decca have even omitted some glorious recordings contemporary to the featured performances, but the Tchaikovsky and Sibelius sets-the only complete sets ever made by the VPO of these composers-have always enjoyed legendary status, and it is easy to hear why.

Recorded between 1963 and 1972 by Decca's crack recording team in "studio conditions" in the famed Sofiensaal acoustic, these performances show the young Maazel at his most dynamic.
It is worth noting that during this period, he had already recorded Zarathustra with the Philharmonia of which he was Principal Guest Conductor, Schubert, Schumann and Prokofiev with the BPO, various sets including a sensational Firebird Suite with the Berlin Radio Symphony of which he was Director as well as of the German State Opera Berlin, French Music with French National Orchestra of which he was also Director-and had conducted Mozart in Salzburg and Lohengrin and The Ring in Bayreuth, all before Age 40- and this is but a few of his accomplishments.

This meant that he came to the works in this set as a fully rounded artist-they may be a younger man's performances but they have an assuredness about them which is palpable-and thrilling.

There is not time and space to analyse each performance, but all are at least worthy, many are just fabulous. I will single out the full version Manfred for particular praise, and the first two Sibelius Symphonies are "reference "performances-they have never been bettered.
The Fifth of Sibelius splits opinions-some find it too fast and thrusting, lacking the sense of suspended animation that they believe the work such embody, but others find it revelatory in the glorious and joyful sonorities that Maazel and the players-unfamiliar with the work in this period-conjure up. I love it.

The Strauss pieces were held as sensational on their release, particularly the " Tod und Verklarung"-and remain so today, though why they were included over the Karelia Suite and Tapiola is a mystery.

You don't have to find every work on this set totally convincing, and you probably won't-but it is never less than fascinating, certainly not dull and overall brilliant.
There is another appealing factor-the sound quality. These were all recorded under the "Culshaw Doctrine"-indeed one of the discs was produced by John Culshaw himself, and all were engineered by Gordon Parry, the High Priest of Culshaw Doctrine! The conviction was that full frequency stereo was a medium in itself, not a means of replicating concert conditions, and balances were manipulated to provide what they deemed as ideal sonics only otherwise possible in the composer's mind!

When Decca still existed and had its own technical team under the late James Locke, in re-mastering recordings of the Culshaw period they carefully reversed much of this process as the taste and expectations of the listening pubic have changed, not least as a result of the move to live performance recording. Perspectives and balances were altered to a more natural state, not always to the delight of those who treasured the original LP releases, but in this release the original intentions of Erik Smith, Culshaw and Parry have been left unaltered.

This really is the legendary Decca sound of the 60's and 70's with all that this entails-a massive organ sound in the Manfred finale, cellos at least 3 metres tall surely, etc.
It is glorious, not as extreme as Phase 4, but not the rather homogenised results of the modern era.
The set is worth it to experience this alone!

If you are looking for a complete set of either works by the same artists, there are few if any better overall. Together in this bargain box they make a compelling choice and will thus appeal not just to admirers of Maazel, the VPO or Decca recording techniques.
The Tchaikovsky and Sibelius are superior in every respect to later versions by the Maestro, the Strauss the equal at least.
Hopefully more of Maazel's enormous recorded legacy will reappear sonically revitalised, and at time of writing we still await the release of his final Mahler recordings, including Das Lied Von Der Erde which I had to the privilege to hear live at the concert in London.
Strongly recommended-5 Stars. Stewart Crowe.
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